Ian Poulter says he sympathises with fellow Europeans currently missing out on world ranking points but also reckons it would have been wrong for the PGA Tour to restart with no reward on offer.
Speaking after carding a seven-under-par 64 to share the first-round lead in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head in South Carolina, the Englishman offered his view on one of the big talking points in the game.
On Wednesday, world No 1 Rory McIlroy said he “didn’t understand” European players complaining about missing out on the chance to rack up points by sitting home as the US circuit entered its second week of its restart following a three-month coronavirus lockdown.
“It’s difficult,” said Poulter after finishing birdie-birdie to set the pace along with American Mark Hubbard, the pair sitting a shot ahead of a group that includes Ryder Cup hopeful Viktor Hovland.
“It feels a little injust to the guys in Europe that aren’t playing, but how can you not have world ranking points in a tournament like this when you’ve got this level of a field?
“What’s the right and what’s the wrong thing to do in this scenario when you’ve got 16 of the top 20 players playing here this week?
“Yeah, there’s definitely going to be some guys that have missed opportunities, and it’s going to be tough. I sympathise. I don’t know what the right answer would have been.
“But, with this many points on the table, I potentially could move from, say, 60 in the world to top 20 with two wins. So it wouldn’t be fair if I was in that position, either.”
Jordan Spieth birdied seven of the last eight holes to open with a 65, seven shots better than McIlroy. “Just a little bit of a struggle,” said the world No 1.
Two double-bogeys in the space of three holes on the back nine left Russell Knox having to settle for a two-over-par 73.
Open champion Shane Lowry is also in danger of missing the cut after he carded a 74, signing for 15 pars and three bogeys.
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